Generation Z have grown up in a world of social media. They’re the generation after the millennials, so those born around 1995 until 2010. Born into this world of online intensity, Generation Z tend to challenge things, and events that have been running in the same format for years are now having to start adapting to this new generation and how they work and live. It’s a daunting and expensive task, effectively ripping up the rule book and starting over, but with Generation Z next to enter the workforce, it may well be an entirely necessary one.
Will this generation still attend conferences and events when they settle into their careers – or will they do everything digitally? It’s not likely everything will go online, but event managers need to stay focused on making each event unique to its audience.
Generation Z want to be able to pick and choose content, share it instantly, experience cool new things and be environmentally responsible all at the same time – and they expect events to allow them to do this.
What does Generation Z look like?
According to Visual Capitalist they:
● tend to be pragmatic and focused on saving money, having grown up in a recession
● are mobile natives, rather than pioneers
● prefer brands that feel authentic
● prefer Snapchat and Instagram ahead of Facebook, Twitter etc.
● say the two most important skills to succeed in the workplace are communication and problem solving.
How do we create events for Generation Z?
72% of Generation Z prefer face-to-face conversation, so it’s also important to have breakout spaces and networking time scheduled in. People want to talk and make connections, contrary to popular opinions about ever increasing screen time.
That said, event managers should also be prepared to eliminate FOMO (fear of missing out) by making sure elements of their event are live streamed and lots of content shared. After all, 50% spend 10 hours a day connected online and 70% spend two hours plus a day just on YouTube! How up to speed is your video content? It may transpire that you need additional skill sets in your team to adapt your events accordingly.
You’ve probably realised by now that Generation Z have grown up with the world at their fingertips. So in the event world, this means that we need to make our events a conversation not a lecture. This generation are not used to having to wait to ask for things, so make your event on a level. This could be by getting them involved in immersive experiences and co-creating the content themselves.
Finally, sustainability is a way of life for Generation Z, not just a box to tick. More and more people have turned vegan and many take their own refillable bottles out with them. Our events need to be green and if they’re not, Generation Z will be the first to shout about it.
How else will Generation Z affect the industry?
Technology – how much is too much?
While Generation Z have grown up in an online world, there is a shift in society as a whole towards more time offline. Are we actually simultaneously doing our events an injustice by focusing too much on tech?
We’ve spoken a lot in previous blogs about immersive experiences; hands-on activities that people yearn for. Families are often trying to limit screen time and when we go on holiday, some of us are choosing more remote places where we won’t have signal or 4G and can literally switch off. Did you know Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, organised a silent 10 day meditation retreat? That’s the CEO of one of the world’s biggest social platforms going tech free!
Of course technology is essential to make our events run, but are delegates coming to events to switch off? Are they coming to have two hours without having to look at their emails? Event managers need to get to know their audience and focus on what they want.
Content – how authentic is it?
As we mentioned earlier, authenticity on social is also important for Generation Z. An article in C&IT Magazine, said: “82% of respondents to a recent BBC Radio 4 poll said it’s not always clear when an influencer had been paid to promote a product. 47% are fed up with repetitive influencer content online and 23% feel that the quality of content is taking a dip.”
With this in mind, we have to question how we get our content into the public domain, and try and do it in a way that isn’t going to be ignored or frustrate our followers.
Influencers with the largest followings may not be the best choice, as the conversion rates might not be there. Just as with how much or little technology we choose to use, content needs to be tailored to our audience too.
Choose an influencer who fits with your audience, or, better still, make use of this fabulous new generation and encourage them to share your content among their peers. If its Instagrammable, you’re on to a winner.